Polyculture is agriculture using multiple crops in the same space, providing crop diversity in imitation of the diversity of natural ecosystems, and avoiding large stands of single crops, or monoculture. This includes multi-cropping, intercropping, companion planting, beneficial weeds, and alley cropping. It is the raising at the same time and place of more than one species of plant. Polyculture is one of the principles of permaculture.
Polyculture often requires more labor but it has two main advantages over monoculture.
Polyculture reduces susceptibility to disease. For example, a study in China showed that planting several varieties of rice in the same field increased yields by 89%, largely because of a dramatic (94%) decrease in the incidence of disease, which made fungicides redundant.
Polyculture increases local biodiversity. This is one example of reconciliation ecology, or accommodating biodiversity within human landscapes. This may also form part of a biological pest control program.
- "Companion Planting Guide". Thompson & Morgan. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
- Chrispeels, M.J.; Sadava, D.E. 1994. "Farming Systems: Development, Productivity, and Sustainability". pp. 25–57 in Plants, Genes, and Agriculture. Jones and Bartlett, Boston, MA.
- Youyong Zhu; et al. (2000). "Genetic Diversity and Disease Control in Rice". Nature (406): 718–722. doi:10.1038/35021046. Archived from the original on 2011-11-18.